Vijay Raghav Rao

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Pandit Vijay Raghav Rao (Vijaya Raghava Rao) (November 3, 1925 - November 30, 2011) was an Indian flutist, composer, choreographer, musicologist, poet and fiction writer.[1]

He was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 1970,[2] and in 1982 the Sangeet Natak Akademi in Creative and Experimental music category, the highest for performing artist conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.[3]

Personal life[edit]

He was born in Madras (now Chennai), India. He was married since 1947 to Smt. Lakshmi V. Rao. They have four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was an Indian-American, a permanent resident of the United States.

Career[edit]

Through the past six decades, Pt. Vijay Raghav Rao has shaped and influenced the essential form and derivatives of culture known to the world as classically Indian. It can be authoritatively said that with his performances on the Indian flute in front of audiences worldwide (and recordings thereof), he has interpreted ancient music for modern ears with an understanding that is chaste, and an elocution that stimulates intellects, both mature and young. His genius has also expressed itself in critically acclaimed works for modern orchestra and ballet ensembles. Several award winning features and short films shown at some of the most prestigious international film festivals carry his experimental music. Critics and connoisseurs of his expression in Asia, Europe and America have responded with meaningful praise. To note a few-

"No substitute for his flute...the complete master" - The Hindustan Times

“A volcano of creative expression" - The Indian Express

"One of the greatest flautists of this world..." - The Times of India

“His flute is an unending fountain of myriad melodies, always fresh, always original...” - The Patriot

"Creator of beautiful, wide and ethereal canvasses..." - The Deccan Herald

"20th Century Renaissance Genius" - The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Awe Inspiring...Innovative & Imaginative Vitality..." - The Statesman

"Intensely romantic...lyrical...extremely serene..." - Rave Magazine

“Innovator in the world of music.. a versatile genius.,” - - The JS Magazine

Panditji’s awards, citations and press have reflected public sentiments of awe and respect for one who has staked new vistas for an ancient tradition, unfettered by a need for acceptance or accolades. He has been bestowed with honors in India, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. In India alone, he has received multiple Sangeet Natak Akademi awards, the titles of Sangeet Kala Shiromani and Gana Kala Prapoorna, the Gaurav Puraskar, Lifetime Achievement awards and honorary doctorates. In 2002, the Governor of Maryland bestowed Panditji with an honorary citation for his contributions to strengthening cultural ties between India and the United States. In 2008, he received the Aditya Birla Kala Shikhar (Zenith of Art) award from the Governor of Maharashtra. He was a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Panditji’s creative works in the realms of dance, orchestral composition and film music are recognized for an energizing originality that is often perceived to extend the boundaries of the artistic idiom. His compositions in dance and music have set trends, recognized worldwide with awards, and permeated musical expression in cultural media such as film, ballet and recordings. Panditji’s scores for Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome (1969) (honored with the Golden Peacock, IFF, New Delhi) and painter M.F. Hussain’s Through the Eyes of a Painter (1967) (honored with the Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival) are just two examples of such brilliance. As a poet, Panditji has published five well- received anthologies of poems and short stories in English and Telugu.

Musicians are a rare species of human beings, seeking originality in the midst of what is the norm, expressing the voice of the human condition to those who experience it every day, seeking new spirits and notes in scales that have not changed in two thousand years. And it may be said that over half a century, Pt. Vijay Raghav Rao has been the preeminent musician to more than a generation of musicians, connoisseurs, musicologists and fans in India and parts of the world outside.

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